Here is Stuart Weir’s first of four pieces on the Rome Diamond League. Rome DL is one of my favorite stadiums to watch a meet and enjoy the performances. I was not there this year, but Stuart Weir was, and we will enjoy his coverage of the Golden Gala!
As you wander around city of Rome there is so much to see. It is one of the great cities of the modern world but you are never more than a few yards from a reminder of its ancient past. Nothing is more magnificent than the Coliseum, which in its heyday could hold up to 80,000 for gladiatorial contests – although the consequences of defeat were somewhat greater than in the Diamond League. Then, in modern Rome, there is all that pizza and pasta to eat…
Rome’s Olympic Stadium or Stadio Olimpico as the locals call it, has hosted the 1960 Olympics and the 1990 Soccer World Cup final. It can seat 72,000 but always looks a bit empty on Diamond League night – that was a shame as there were a number of stellar performances, of which I will pick two..
A particular favorite of mine was seeing Aries Merritt win the 100H. I was delighted because Aries is such a delightful man, always obliging and smiling. And when you remember that it is less than two years since the 2012 Olympic champion had a kidney transplant. He won the race in 13.13, defeating David Oliver, Orlando Ortega and Sergey Shubenkov, who was running as an Authorized Neutral Athlete.
Merritt said of his win: “It was a decent race but I didn’t execute the middle of my race as planned. I started well but the middle of the race had complications and I banged my knee. All in all it was a good race. I am jet-lagged as I just got off the plane two days ago, so I will take it. It was solid. I’m really happy with where I am with my training. Every time I run, I equal or better my season’s best”.
Natasha Hastings had a magnificent win in the 400 metres, in 50.54. She said of her race: “It is a pleasure for me to be in Rome, even more so as I won this race of course. After the Olympic Games it is always a mental challenge to get ready for a year with World Championships. It is not easy but London is my main goal. I want to be on the podium there. I am really excited about this SB. Last Sunday I had a PB in the 200m. I wanted to go hard as I usually do. I guess I ran a pretty good race today. But my coach will still find something wrong. We did a lot of strength work, we are now working on being fast”.
Natasha has additional motivation to get to London – her mom is from London and she has already bought her plane ticket.